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Investigators, police fabricated testimonies says prison director (Update)

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Prison director Anna Aristotelous

Investigators and police officers colluded to fabricate testimonies, prison director Anna Aristotelous said on Monday in the latest twist in the prison drama.

Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC, she said two independent investigators tasked with producing a report on drug and mobile phone use in the prisons have colluded with police officers to obtain fabricated testimonies.

Aristotelous said she has reported the allegations to the recently established anti-corruption authority.

She also conceded that mobile phone and drug use within the prisons still occurs although significant progress has been made in reducing their prevalence.

However – later in the day, the legal services stated that it has not yet received a complaint related to the investigation. It cited lead investigator of the case Michalakis Christodoulou as saying that they are at an advanced stage in the process and it is being carried out entirely within its terms of reference.

The legal services further stated that they are progressing well and will hand over the report to the attorney general as soon as possible.

The Nicosia central prisons have been the focus of two investigations, both launched by the attorney general.

The first was based on accusations by Aristotelous that Michalis Katsounotos, then head of the drugs squad (Ykan), was colluding with an inmate to secure damaging footage of her to try and blackmail her.

The findings of that report were handed over to the attorney general’s office last Thursday, with Aristotelous’ legal team claiming that it vindicated their side.

The second investigation, which sees two of its leading investigators facing collusion accusations from Aristotelous, was launched following damning reports of phone and drug use by inmates within the prison.

The decision was announced just hours after a ringleader who is serving five life sentences was sentenced to another 40 years for organising two murder attempts –despite being behind bars.

The announcement of the second investigation led to strong reactions from Aristotelous and the prison unit’s senior officer Athina Demetriou.

They swiftly asked to be transferred from their positions – a day after the deputy attorney general announced the investigation.

There have been claims that illegalities – drug and phone use, among others – continued long after Aristotelous took charge of the prisons.

Aristotelous worked at the central prison for eight years.

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